Camporee: TNG

Some of you might remember my brooding post from last year about a camping trip with the Boy Scouts. This weekend I went on this year’s edition of the same trip and I had a much better time. I think that the same can be said for the boys who participated–they all said it was awesome.

The biggest thing that helped me to relax and enjoy myself was the larger number of people who attended, both Scouts and leaders. Several of the adults have sons that were also present. At one point, I told the fathers that it was really interesting and informative to watch them interact with their sons. I worried that my observations wouldn’t help me in my relationship with Elena, but they have daughters too and assured me that anything I picked up would be useful with girls too.

I want to have at least some record of the activities, because I put a lot of thought and work into them and I might come back to them in the future. On Saturday they had a Scout skills competition, and asked us to come up with an activity that would test the various troops’ teamwork and knowledge.

We decided to develop a game called Human Minesweeper. We laid out a 6×6 square grid and let the boys walk through it one square at a time. With a map in our hands, at each step we told them how many ‘mines’ were adjacent to their position, just like in the computer game. If they landed on a mine, we gave them one chance to defuse it by answering a question. If they got the answer wrong, the mine blew up and they had to do penalty pushups. We had three levels, each with an increasing number of mines.

By far the highlight of the trip was the catapult construction contest. Most of the other groups used a simple design and used scouts pulling on a rope for their power. We decided to make a torsion catapult, also known as an onager. We over-engineered and underperformed, but had a great time making it. I’m especially proud of the construction–the scouts worked really hard to make the lashings tight, and our structure held fast even after repeated firing. I’ll stop my description there and let the following video tell the tale.


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